Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sydney and the Chinese Gardens

By the time I got off the plane and caught a bus ( the right bus that is, I got some bad info from one of the drivers and it took my alomso 2 1/2 hours to get to my hostel) I was dead tired. I checked into my hostel , ran out to grab something to eat then crashed for the remainder of the night.

The next morning the woman at the desk told me about some of the closest things to see which were the Haymarket ( a large flea market / fruit market on the ground floor with a large shopping mall and food court on the upper floors ) which is the place to go to buy designer knock offs for cheap LOL.. also great for souveniers to pass out to family and friends.

Then there was Chinatown ( although I wouldn't limit it to just Chinese, there are tons of Thai, Koreans and Japanese in this asian section of town.) I passed through and kept going to Darling Harbor and on the way discovered the Chinese Freindship Garden, a massive enclosed garden in the middle of the city that was so incredibly quiet and peaceful you never would have known you were in the midst of a bustling metropolis.

Here is the Bonsai section of the Gardens, a large open roofed room filled with beautiful bonsai trees.

There are many building throughout the gardens all built in the same ornate chinese style and scattered among hills and waterfalls and bamboo forests.

The moon gate opened from the path into a serene little peninsula along the giant pond.

Me next to the rock formations that make up one of the many waterfalls in the gardens. After spending a few hours wandering through this maze of walkways I headed out and up to Darling Harbour , it's all pretty tourist but there ia the Sydney Aquarium there and an amazing naval museum with actual ship docked that you can go on board like a Schooner, Submarine, Battle ship, etc.
I also made it a point to stop for a reflexology massage on my way through China Town.. I hig;ly reccomend them when you're doing a hell of a lot of walking.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Christchurch, One more time!

This time back in Christchurch I had alot more time to kill since there was no rush for me to get to work anywhere. I did need to stay in town during my week there in order to have my bloddwork done for the next season ( I figured I'd get it done while I was there and let the company foot the bill ), if not for doing that I would have traveled the islands as many of my co-workers did.
The city has an amazing Botanical Gardens and I spent much time wandering through them.. it was quite helpful that the main gate was right across from the YMCA where I stayed. I booked a dorm room there so I had 5 other roomies during my stay but for only $18 a night I wasn't going to complain especially since most of my days were spent wandering around the city.
The annual garden festival was going on and there we're a huge number of special display throughout the city for the event, one of my favorites being the grass growing on the side of the museum with a lawn mower fastened to the builing as if it were mowing the grass.
I spent one day out at Brighton, a beach front suburb where I got to watch people crab fishing from the pier and others surfing in the early morning tide.
There are many statues scattered in Christchurchs various parks ( they have a lot of parks ) and here is a picture of the one deticated to Robert Scott , one of the original explorers racing to discover the Antarctic and make it to the South Pole. The photos of his hut from the early expeditions are among my post while on the ice.
I also spent much of my time blowing through my money ( not really ) by eating out( real food ) with many of my co-workers as they arrived throughout the week to Christchurch, there are so many truly fantastic restaurants with awesome food and great beer as well :-)
My time threre many not have sounded too exciting but I certainly enjoyed myself, it's a beautiful city in a beautiful country and I can't wait to go back and explore it even more.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

OMG! I have been so lazy!!

During my travels back to the States I got so lazy as far as keeping up with my Blog and adding pictures so now I'm gonna back track and post in order from when I left the Ice ( Antarctica ) until what I'm doing now... I will have to do it in several posts though LOL

Unfortunately the weather at the station had become rather crappy my last days there and I wasn't able to do much as far as hiking.. I pretty much spent the days deciding what I wanted to keep with me to travel what I wanted to leave there and what I wanted to mail back home. I ended up mailing back two suitcases full of uneeded clothing and souveniers which definately lighted my load, I really didn't want to drag all that stuff through new Zealand and Australia.
The pics I put on here are of the Emperor penguin that wandered onto the runway the day of my flight.. the firemen had to keep shooing it away so that it wasn't in the path of the plane ( I wonder if it was a sign that it didn't want me to go LOL )
Then there is what I'll refer to as the preflight lounge.. we all had to stand out on the runway waiting for the plane to land before we could leave.. I think they could have at least offered us some cocoa or shots of whiskey ( it was and 9 degrees and the wind was kicking )
Next pic is of Rachel the baking assistant at McMurdo and one of my favorite people to work with, she had gotten the job there after graduating for the Baking and Pastry program at Johnson and Wales... the type of culinary school I only wish I could have afforded. I'm hoping to be on the first flights back there in August so that I can see her again.. she's such a happy and positive person.
That's me in my parka waiting for the plane.. I had to stand behind the Terrabus to block the wind from blowing my hood down. Brrrrrr
And finally there is the sun as it's slowing working it's way down the horizon, it won't be full darkness till like mid-April and from the weather reports I see that it's getting progressively colder ( -30 with the wind right now )
I left the ice and 5 short hours later landed in Christchurch , New Zealand of course the plane didn't get in until almost midnight and then we all had to turn in out work uniforms and cold weather gear before being shuttled to our various hotels for some well deserved rest in comfy queen beds rather than the little twins we had all become used to.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

They say it's my Birthday....

So, it just so happens to be my Birthday down here, which is funny since it won't be my B-day till tomorrow back home. I spent my special day packing up stuff that I didn't need and mailing it back to Michigan, I didn't feel like dragging my excess baggage all over the Pacific.

I was hoping to do something fun today , unfortunately the supply vessel is here bringing all the goods for the coming year and that means the bars are all closed for the week and they won't sell any alcohol in the store ( apparently the vessel guys are known for being drunk asses ), on top of that there are no good movies on TV BLAH.

While I would have really enjoyed watching a game of nekked rugby while eating my cake ( I did have cake but I had to make it myself ), I'll just have to put that off until I get to New Zealand or Australia.

It was chilly and really windy this morning otherwise I would have gone for a hike over to Scott Base to pick some things up from the shop there ( still have a few souverniers to buy) or up to Observation Hill to get some more pictures of the surrounding landscapes.

Feel free to send cards or wire me money :-)


Captain, there be whales here...

As Everyone that has been here for multiple seasons has told me, the whales do indeed follow the ice breaking vessel in from the open water. Unfortunately it's not like Sea World and you don't get to see them jumping out of the water ( although if you were brave enough to walk across the weakened ice to the water and had a bucket of fish or were dragging a flailing seal.. you just might be lucky enough to be eaten first )

Yes, the only pictures you get to see are those of the dorsal fin so to you they may as well be pictures of the Loch Ness Monster therefore I have included an artists rendering of what you would have seen ( Ala Mr. Limpet ). I actually did get to see the water spout whenever the whale hit the surface which was pretty cool.
I'm only here for another week and a halfish so I have no Idea what other pictures I may be able to get... But rest assured I'll be posting whatever they are not to mention I'll have the travel pics from my stops on the way back to ths states.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Boon Doggle

BOONDOGGLE: [ boon-dog-uhl]
-noun ;
1: A product of simple manual skill such as aplaited leather cord or knife sheath, made typically by a camper or a scout.
2: A work of little or no value designed to keep or make you look busy.
3: A project funded by the Federal Government out of political favoritism that is of no real value to the community or the nation.
( courtesy of dictionary.com ) I'll say mine was #2
On the ice a boondoggle is typically a morale trip designed so that staff can get away from the town for a bit and enjoy the scenery. The one I got to go on is called " room with a view" and everyone goes by snow mobile up to the base of the Mt Erebus Volcano where (on a clear day ) the view is reported to be phenominal.
The day I got to go it was overcast for the ride out but it was still fun since I had never driven a snow mobile before ( I had to buddy up with one of the Kiwi Firefighters on a machine) it was alot of fun. The clouds broke for a time when we reached the Base and I would have gotten more pictures if my camera batteries hadn't died.
While there we drank all drank cocoa and some of the guys played frisbee while others took pictures of the surrounding glacier toungue and mountains.. even the islands out on the sea were slightly visible.
That is most likely the only one I'll get to go on since my days here are numbered with just 16 bmore to go :-(

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ice Rugby 2010

The 10th annual Antarctic Rugby Match was a couple weekends ago. It was the US Base against the New Zealand Base and as always NZ won it ( Hell, it's their sport ), it was a great game none the less.
Unlike most rugby matches the game was played on the frozen ice sheets that doubles as a airfield in the colder months.
Unfortunately I had to work but I got these great pics and heard all about the game from other on the station.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Penguins YAY!!

I finally got to see penguins and it was all by accident, I had just returned to my room after a long work day and out the window happened to see a group of people standing on the shore...and since the seals had gotten boring I figured there must be some thing more interesting to see. I grabbed on of the mountain bikes we have for use on base and high tailed it down to Hut Point , sure enough there playing ( well some were playing and others were sleeping ) were about a dozen Ade lie Penguins. I was happy to see them and thought I had missed out on the opportunity when the Emperor Penguins were spotted out by the airfield ( could get a shuttle driver to stop for me and when they finally offered sign ups to get driven out to see them , the sheets filled up right away DAMMIT .

Anyway, I'm glad I got to see them and maybe with some luck I'll get to see more before I leave.. the icebreaker came in on Monday and broke up huge path in the sea for the scheduled supply ships to come into.

They have warned us that some of the longshoremen that come in to unload the boats are kinda shady and to be sure to keep your stuff locked up ( things tend to disappear during the offload ). I got some shots of the icebreaker ( OD EN- from Norway , what a shocker of a name for a boat from Norway LOL )that I have yet to take off my camera but I will post soon.

That's it for today, just some dancing penguins.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010



O.K. it's a bunch of bands that have managed to form here on the ice,some people bring instrument with them and there is also a band room on the station where you can go play borrowed instruments or there is the gear issue where you can check out instruments.
The music was pretty great and the atmosphere was very outdoor music festival ( t-shirts for sale, face painting, tye dyeing, free chili, brats, and hamburgers as well as Baileys in your coffee YAY! ( beer you had to buy :-P )
The whole thing ran from 12 - 6 , after that the bands moved indoors to either the coffehouse or gallaghers ( one of the bars ) and the music when on till 11 ish
There was also a make shift game of Cornhole courtesy of the carpenter shop ( CARP SHOP )
Between bands there was dancing and and a well staged battle between the resident robot and ninja factions... who knew there were so many robots and ninjas running amok at the end of the world??

Friday, January 1, 2010

Fun with Pegasus

I was off work on Thusday and had the opportunity to go out and do some volunteer work at the Pegasus runway which is McMurdos airstrip for all the heavy aircraft to use once the summer weather warms up and the sea ice runway is no longer safe to use.
It's named after the plane that crashed there in the 70s, and the story goes like this:
October 1970, a C-121J constellation called "pegasus" crashed onto the McMurdo airfield during a Condition One storm ( during condition one storms , people on base are confined to the buildings they are in until the storm subsides, there is usually visibilty limeted to 100 feet or less, winds at 55 knots or greater, tempuratures equalling -100 degrees F )with zero visibility. the flight had already passed it's point of safe return , so it didn't have enough fuel to get back to New Zealand, after circling for hours hoping for conditions to change they tried to put the plane down as safely as they could and ended up plowing into a snow bank caused by the high winds which spun the plane around tearing off it's propellers, engines and the entire right wing.. no one was killed in the crash.
The wreckage is still laying there to this day the majority of it buried in snow and ice with just the rear tail standing high above the drifts about a mile and a half from where the currently used runway is today.
The pictures are from Pegasus, I don't have a picture of the actual crash since you're not allowed to be by it and we could only be in proximity because of the clean up detail we were on. After the crash they used the surrounding area to dump random trash and burn garbage, not it's up to the environmental department do organize clean ups of the old sites like that. They tell me plans are in the works to finally remove the Pegasus crash wreckage.
In the distance there is a picture of Mt. Erebus, the closest active volcano to the station and the smoke coming off the top is easily seen thanks to the fantastic weather that day. The tiny red box with tank treads is a Pitt Bullie, that is what we rode in coming from the main runway to the wreckage site.. it sure isn't built for comfort LOL.
I'm not sure what kind of plane is in the picture but it is one of the smaller ones used to fly people into the smaller field camps out on the ice surrounding the station where they do various research, ice drilling and the like.
I also learned that I need to apply more sunscreen, I got a hell of a burn on my face working all afternoon out in the bright sun with all the reflective snow.. I'm not accustomed to pasting it on so heavy since I work in the galley and my outdoors time is typically limited.
I'll add the link to the Antarctic Sun Newspaper for those that want followialong with current happenings down here.
Thanks for stopping by and don't forget the sunscreen!